Newspaper Article 2020 – When flu hit Bay 102 years ago

When flu hit Bay 102 years ago

Thomas Airey

Over a century before the current Covid-19 pandemic, Hawke’s Bay went through a similar experience with the Spanish Flu.

And the team at Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank has discovered a photo from late 1918 depicting how the local community responded to a virus that claimed 9000 New Zealand lives in just a few months.

The photo shows preparations underway at Mahora School in Hastings, using a spray unit supplied by orchardist Mr Robertson to fumigate the school.

Much like Covid-19, the Spanish Flu also saw many public facilities close and gatherings postponed.

“Coming across these memories, while in many ways tragic, reminds us of how resilient we really are,” said Hawke’s Bay Digital Archives Trust chairman Peter Dunkerley.

“It is quite incredible to believe that we have been through something so similarly frightening before and, to date, with a much worse outcome,”

Knowledge Bank Hawke’s Bay is a charitable organisation based at Stoneycroft House in Hastings, committed to preserving Hawke’s Bay memories; the stories of its events, people, celebrations, tragedies and day-to-day life.

The work is predominantly carried out by a large team of volunteers who scan books, papers and photos and record and transcribe verbal recollections, Dunkerley said.

Photo caption – Mr Robertson, right with horse, brought a spray unit to help fumigate Mahora School in Hastings.

Original digital file


Business / Organisation

Mahora Primary School



Date published

19 September 2020

Format of the original

Newspaper article

Creator / Author

  • Thomas Airey


Hawke’s Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


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